I love it when I watch a flick and have no idea what I'm in for. In the case of Intacto, all I had was the title to work with. The screener I received came in a plain white envelope, with nothing more than the DVD inside and the title scrawled across the bottom. As I went through a small batch of screeners with names I recognized, my eye kept going back to this mysterious disc, until finally I relented and threw it in my player. Boy Howdy, was I surprised by what I found!
Intacto is a story about gambling. No, not the roulette wheel/blackjack/scratch ticket variety, we're talking high stakes sorta stuff. Lose your LIFE sorta stuff. These games aren't based on skill, but luck. In the gambling underground of Spain, high rollers bet their very existence on simple games of chance; for example, upon whose head a bug lands, or who can race from one side of a highway to the other--- blindfolded. The games are run on several tiers which lead to a final game between the last competitor and Samuel (Von Sydow), a man who hasn't lost in over 30 years. Federico (Poncela) was once a trusted friend of Samuel, but when he decided he no longer wanted to take part in the games, Samuel "stole" his luck (Federico believes that touching someone or possessing their photograph accomplishes such a thing). When Federico learns that a soul survivor of a plane crash, who was en route home after robbing a bank, is being held in the local hospital, he makes a deal with him. Play the game, win your freedom, and defeat Samuel.
Intacto is an absolutely mesmerising thriller. It's tough to describe, and, at times, even tougher to follow, but the payoff is well worth it. Director Fresnadillo's film is a complex and original one that will definitely have people talking, much like Fincher's Fight Club or Cronenberg's Crash. Intacto's subject, much like the aforementioned films, targets a dark and isolated part of the human psyche in which desperate people go to desperate measures to make their lives seem worthwhile. It's a very compelling story, and, to the script's credit, one that's presented in a believable way. The script's only major flaw is the fact that it leaves the viewer on the sidelines for more than half of the film, before finally initiating us into the world of "the game". It's a bit confusing and challenging, but when we are accepted into the fold, it's well worth the wait.
The DVD from Lion's Gate is packed with features, including a commentary by Fresnadillo, a pair of behind the scenes segments, trailers, filmographies, and a stills gallery. The transfer is gorgeous, and caters magnificently to the film's dark and dreary look. The film is in Spanish and English, with English subtitles that are nice and big and yellow, which I can't praise enough seeing that I watch lots and lots of foreign films in which the white tiny subtitles fade into the background and I miss half of the bloody dialogue. It's a little thing, but it goes a long way, especially for a film as complex as Intacto.
Intacto is a brilliant and exhilaratingly original film that is sure to please fans of Cronenberg and Fincher, and is destined for cult status. Seek this sucker out!